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tv   Corporate Influence in Courts  CSPAN  August 20, 2012 4:55am-6:00am EDT

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>> we will talk today about the report at the back of the room. i encourage everyone to read them. it is to be recommended. i want to thank them for their great work. i am honored to be on the stage with two heavyweights of the legal community and the current debate over the state of our judiciary. justice nelson, if you could set the stage for where we are and what the stakes are going forward in the wake of, not only citizens united, but the legal
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challenges that come in the wake of that, including one in which you offered the descent of last week. >> in the opening remarks, he mentioned something that i think most americans tend to forget. with equal dignity and power, and i think what is in play here is the control of the judiciary. politicians understandably want to control the executive branch and the legislative branch. at least in my view, neither of those is entitled to control the judiciary branch. that is not the judiciary is about. it is about impartiality
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fairness. making decisions based upon the rule of law and giving people their day in court and a fair hearing about their dispute. that is what is in play here. that is what is important. represent or elective justices. supporting some kind of dialogue or some philosophy. they are going to do that. because money talks, as you know from citizens united. speech is money. it does affect elections. >> you have had a unique
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perspective of being a part of the political process. talk a little bit about what it means in terms of the state of the kitchen -- of each additional selection process. the political campaigns that failed to specify are so many right now. >> -- that failed to inspire some money right now. >> he mentioned many in my political career. i certainly have not. [laughter] having both been a elected and appointed. some say an appointed system is somehow superior to an elected process. that is not necessarily so. the appointed process is at political as well. you have to be connected and know the right people. but the political process is entirely different. we heard andrew mentioned the
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remarks of sandra day o'connor. people feel the campaign contributions influence the judiciary. that is not fair when 75% of the people believe that influence -- but contributions influence of justice. what is more telling is another statistic which is a poll of judges themselves. a 50% of state court judges themselves actually influence the outcome of judicial decisions. when you get half of the -- of the judiciary thinking that, these of the folks were supposed to be unbiased in making decisions based upon the law and at the facts. when half of judges feel that campaign contributions influence the campaigns, we have a problem. >> talk a little bit about who is bringing the money into these
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races and to what extent has the amount of money changed over the years of your career. who is spending the money. what are they spending it. why has this changed in recent years. >> historically, lawyers were the folks who contributed to the elections. that is how it all started. lawyers had a system. we as a supreme court justices and judges like to think that we are important or that we are well-known. people do not know who judges are. there are a few dekes out there and the country who knows something. i am one of them. but other than that select group of folks, the religion not know who the judges are. in mississippi in 1990, of
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course, i am from mississippi. the winning justice spent an average of $25,000. that is not that long ago, in 1990. by 2000, the average winning campaign for the supreme court in mississippi was up to $1 million. that amount of time, he sought exponential amounts of money. it came about through special interests. i think they thought they could see these elections which turned out to be fairly easy picking and they could pump lots of money into it. call role grove -- karl rove had a couple million dollars invested in it. he had his interests.
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people saw the opportunity there and started putting money into judicial elections. it was fairly easy to influence of that point. >> i agree with of the remarks that were just made. there is less people in montana then in half of washington, d.c. it has typically been a low- budget, low campaign contributions state. in montana you can be appointed if there is a vacancy in the office. at that time, the largest campaign contribution that could be made for a justice on the supreme court was $250.
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i raised to under $50,000 for my election campaign, most of which was spent on the media -- off $250,000, most of which was spent on the media. got another that is not contested. it is where they typically are. it is correct that typically attorneys -- i will say this. in the montana race there was a primary knocked out. all but two. one person was not elected. one of the people who was elected, over half of the money
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that was spent in her campaign came from her outside pacs. i don't know what the affect of money will be in the general election. that remains to be seen. montana is going to join the rest of states where campaign money and campaign contributions are affecting sources. they certainly try to influence people outside of that campaign. when you have money coming out of that campaign, there is a difference. in a presidential campaign, we see it right now as happening all over the country. they are mostly negative.
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they tried to give you information to base a decision on. and a matter how much money these outside groups are putting into the general election, president obama -- we know president obama. these outside groups will not be able to define him. we know mitt romney. he has run for president before. if he is been running for a while now. he cannot be defined by these. in a judicial campaign, judges are not known. the opportunity there is to define a judge. when you can define that person and they do not have enough money or funds to respond, if they are being defined by one group, then it is easy to pick them off. it is not equivalent to a national election, life for president.
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>> is is not just citizens united. for those of you not familiar with that, the supreme court ruled that while judicial candidates could not promise of a wooden boat, they could at least announce a position on various issues. most states at that time had what they called prohibitions in their ethical rule and did not allow judges to do that. now, in addition to outside groups, judges can essentially define themselves. i am for this, i am for that. i am against this, i am against that. he cannot promise i your going to vote, but the public is not a stupid. choice, i am pro-life.
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common sense prevails. people are going to take that as well. that is house will vote. -- that is how they will vote. >> one position you have noted is the idea is that it is worse in a judicial case because you do not have the counter. it is more typical to go out and raise money. typically, an element of judging has been not to pre-judge, were the campaign is about where someone stands. >> one of the things that struck many people is the difference in reasoning. the supreme court essentially, one might argue, took a fairly
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different position and then they took in something that they may not understand as well. do we see an emerging potential split in how the supreme court treats judicial elections or do we think there will go away and we are headed -- >> i do not think it will go away. there's a difference in what it says and citizens united. citizens united is a first amendment issue. they can spend money how they want. the other case was purely a case that said that if so much money is spent in a judicial campaign, that it is going to affect the outcome of a particular decision, and then that judge has to recuse himself or herself. >> and it was very limited, too. >> appreciative expand a little
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bit about the case as well. >> caperton, basically, involved a case where a particular person was running -- it was the west virginia supreme court. and a person who had a case pending is almost like a grisham wrote. they wanted this particular person to be elected. they dumped millions of dollars into that person's campaign and the person one and then predictably the person voted in favor of the litigant. it was a split decision. it reversed the lower court decision that was against the litigant to a supreme court in favor. under those circumstances, the supreme court felt there was too
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much of an appearance of impropriety. >> to you see this as being something where there could be a different set of jurisdictions within the elections or is it bringing under due process, versus the first amendment issue? >> i think the citizens united decision is broader. when you're dealing with first amendment issues, it will be applied to any election. the decision was very narrow with the refusal. there is the appearance of impropriety or the appearance that the judge should recuse. that is when it would fly. the supreme court did not even man did it in that instance.
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they said they should send it back for a review and let the judge to decide. i think the citizens united decision is much broader. >> if you want to put it in that frame, citizens united was written by kennedy. kennedy was dismissive of the caperton decision in the citizens united case. i do not see any light at the end of the tunnel. dore supposed to go out and it the way that was supposed to play out. some of the issues we are talking about, pro consumer and pro corporate do not sit in what might be the current democrat
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/republican split in ideology. this is more of a populist to corporatist or pro-a citizen obverses pro powerful. i come from virginia, you are from mississippi on this. to some people, it has been a surprise to see montana, which is not seen a left-wing state really leading to a judicial push back on this. in your sense, what are the lines being drawn here? is it one that is about different ideology on the court? or is it purely a matter of a follower of money? >> on the supreme court? >> also trickling into the state elections. in other words, when you see the montana supreme court having a fairly forcible push back on this, why do see that coming from a state like montana as
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opposed to something you might see is a more traditionally liberal state. >> well, that is complicated. i am probably getting way out of my league year. when master practicing law in montana, -- when i started practicing law in montana, montana was a progressive state. newtto '93, whenever the gingrich trouble took place, montana sudden going more and more in that direction. although montana is composed of blue-collar workers, ranchers, that sort of thing, that group of people has followed the trend nationally that becker people has been falling, towards a more
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conservative spectrum. most of the people on the supreme court are not quite as old as i am, but close to it. we come from a different era. i think this election, at least for the state in vacating on the court, will be the new generation. you should be asking that question in 10 or 15 years. >> if it is not an easy left/right to break down. in mississippi, judicial elections are run by parties. we're not republican democrats. we run nonpartisan as they do in many states. the united the breakdown in judicial races. it is a lot about the money.
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the breakdown we have seen in mississippi in addition to corporations and doctors and medical providers on one side and lawyers and labor unions on another side, is not an equivalency at all. i think all the statistics show that the left side of lawyer groups and union groups are out spent in many times five-one, six-one. there is no equivalency to balance. >> i think another factor is underplayed. that is the amount that the christian right has played. , because that has made a difference in my state.
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in 2004, we had the marriage amendment passed about the constitution. 62% of people voted for that. i was dumbfounded. it does not reflect what i think most people actually believe in montana about that issue. >> one of the interesting things is when the outside groups come in, i have noticed that the ads they run to not normally support their said it -- their decisions. when the attack -- when the attack a judicial candidate, what they do is use issues that will inflame the public. usually using criminal decisions from the judge's past career. and as you saw the movie hot coffee, the expos a on corporate influence in the entire
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judiciary. how these groups came into our campaign, this started running these massive amounts of ads talking about what a horrible person i was. they piled moneybags up on a bench. there excepting tens of thousands of dollars from lawyers groups. he went on to allow a cocaine dealer to be set out of prison. that is an appellant injustices job. a judge cannot do it by themselves. in mississippi, we had nine judges. these ads were just really horrible. we didn't want our kids to see them. we did not want them seeing this on television. we kept the television off as we were getting ready for school in the morning. one morning we forgot, of
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course. and my daughter olivia is in the of the room and we hear her yelling, daddy, we are rich. we have lots of money being given to us. the ads did not necessarily have the affect that they wanted on my household. but they did on the public. >> it is certainly something that comes across strongly in the appeal. since we are doing pr here for john grisham, it goes in detail their about the fact that many cases the money is spent on looking for a return on investment based on the specific corporate liability case or the more generalized issue of liability and consumer protection laws. the ads and not being spent largely on culture or criminal issues. the grooves don't care. that is what the justice who will decide their way.
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i guess part of the question back on that is where you went with it, does it also affected not just the balance of the scale between corporate and consumer interests, but the politicization of the bench. when i was briefly a politician, you balance the nuance of good public policy making against the death panel adds. hopefully we have politicians willing to do what would be a matter of good public policy. but for that to be a criminal case, you talk about the impact of this. is the problem money in politics or the election themselves of justices. >> it is a combination. when you have large amounts of money coming into the campaign, it is going to influence both
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public and the candidates running. there going to tailor candidates to win. in one of the horrible results of the campaign against me, you see these terrible ads about drug dealers and things. a fellow member of the supreme court actually saw those and after that point he refused to vote or returned criminal cases. i thought it was a horrible thing to do. he losses next election anyway. but yes. judges who are running for election do keep in mind what the next 30-second ad will look like. unfortunately, it does have a spill over a fact. i knew what was coming when i voted. i wrote a dissent, for the abolition of the death penalty
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in mississippi which was not a popular stance in the south. i knew what was coming. but i did it anyway. you have to have principled people ultimately run for these decisions. >> that is the problem. if you don't get big money in these judicial elections, you're not going to get principal people that are willing to run for these offices and a crucified in some high funded campaign. >> one of the things i was asking for is we recently had an issue where the president of the university of virginia -- there is an attempt by certain members of the board. it was not a liberal obverses conservative, there were a lot of conservatives who just did not like the idea of someone trying to come into use money to
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determine the outcome. academia, academic liberty is an area where both conservatives and liberals often feel like this is a place that should not be about who has the most money or influence. there should be some sort of fairness or independence in this case. do you see the conversation going forward been connected to that? primarily about the corporate person? is it about speech or is it about this idea of corruption and influence in a process that should be above that? >> i do not know if it will be about corporate, because it had absolutely nothing to do with the decision of citizens united.
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it should be about corruption and the corrosive, distorted the facts. if you think that academia is that we now, it won't be in a few years. i have certainly been proven wrong on that. i do not think that -- i use the phrase in my descend about free corporatism. as long as our national philosophy and economy is dominated by the free market, the market will solve all our problems. i cannot think anything is --
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the best way to promote that philosophy is to control everything. the way control everything is controlled by money. >> i will avoid the attempt to make this about the vice president in this answer. you mentioned this issue about -- one of the things we talk route in the political side is good people to not bother to run anymore. you mentioned people you know in the legal community around the country. do think there is some back here saying, why bother? you're probably taking a salary cut to go on the bench. it tended to be something you did out of a sense of civic duty. now that it starts to look more like running for office, does that affect whether or not good people run? it is a bit of a leading question.
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>> there is no doubt about it. there are a lot of good lawyers out there who simply do not want to get involved in the political process. in the past, we could recruit these wise old lawyers to cap their career with the judicial appointments or maybe have them run for election. it seemed to work for a while. but i think folks looking at it now, if you got some guy who's had a tremendous legal career, a stellar reputation, white solely your reputation, potential your family, knowing your background will be combed through just like any other election. you'll certainly limit the pool of candidates who are interested in seeking these higher judiciary positions.
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fortunately, you do have a trial bench. but even the trial judges, they are somewhat removed from the large funding that comes into the higher judicial positions. even good trial judges to not want to leave their bench to run for a higher up, office. there are not blind. they see what is happening. they know every decision to have made in the past we come through. if they let a rapist to go one time in the past because the prosecutor fought the wrong case, it is coming up in the appellate race. so, yes. you will limit the pool of candidates who are willing to subject themselves to the sort of scrutiny. >> we will open it up to the audience in a second. you mentioned that you did not see the corporate personhood challenges has been a particularly promising direction to go with this.
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we see new ballot initiatives this year in states they're going to make the process less political in several states. what is the right thing? if one believes the corporate and financial influence on our judicial process is corrupting having this corrective a fact, what is the best way for us to try to go forward? >> the best way is to get actual faxed out to the public. not a bunch of sound bites. not a bunch of hocus polkas about corporate personhood. all of us should have a free- speech rights. use them. get the facts out. show how big money is being dumped into a particular race unfairly. show why the cases should not
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have been overturned. having that is the best way around it. i hope the public is not swayed by all of the sound bites i see happening now. i think the best way to do it is to get the facts out and the truth out. >> there are some other solutions as well. this upon the nine supreme -- united states supreme court ruling, there are things we can do about it. in great britain have a law that if corp. want to get involved in politics, they have to have a vote with shareholders. but the shareholders vote. but that decision been known to folks, rather than just a few on
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the corporate board. we have to look at all sorts of different options as well. >> disclosure is important. disclosure is in full play even after citizens united. they can be up and enforced their disclosure laws. make people aware of who is contributing. behindet them hide corporate shields and corporate organizations. at least in the case we had in montana. these people do not like government. they want to do their dirty work in private. to not let them do that. >> in this thin days, there's no reason to have immediate disclosure either. candidates receiving contributions to make it known that day. there's no reason we cannot do
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it quickly and openly. >> i was not on that debate, for much of the years, that has been the conservative decision. as long as you disclosed, you're letting people decide there se.uld not be limits, per cen this is no longer considered to be the conservative decision. >> i would say the vast majority of people that i know from central southern virginia, regardless of political affiliation is that they have a right to know who is spending their money and what they want for it in return. perhaps we will open it up and have someone come around with a microphone here. if you can stick your name and affiliation. >> i was married to a judge for 23 years. how long are your terms and what
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is it like campaigning? if you do not do it through a party? i cannot understand this process at all. >> cars are for eight years. we run non-partisans. basically what i did his go out and talk my experience. you know, my reputation for fairness, my work ethic, and things like that. even though i campaigned after the republican party verses' light, i tried to stay away from implying the ticket position on any particular thing. people would ask me, i would just say, that may come before the court, i will not discuss it. >> were you doing that at fairs?
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was it garden clubs? >> i was doing it every place. in montana, each major party has its dinners. most of the judicial candidates are compelled to go to both. i took that position. port, i did not take a position, i should say. >> mississippi is the same way. we had eight-year terms. in the past, it was just like any other political campaign without taking real firm stands on issues. i ate lots of chicken in mississippi. a fried fish. i went to lions club.
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rotary club. but we also rely on lawyers. lawyers generally know that judicial candidates. they're the ones who are here before us. they're the ones who have cases and watch the decisions of the court. in my races, i relied on my friends who were lawyers throughout the state. they serve as leaders in their local communities. the problem we have got now is that system is antiquated. in my race, the u.s. chamber of commerce came in and was paid for by the u.s. chamber of commerce. they learned we were getting a bad reputation from these other groups. when you get $1 million, as they
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did in my campaign. it influences the elections and takes away the support of meeting folks in the community and relying on recommendations and things of that nature. >> and bless you for living with a judge as long as you did. this is not easy. my wife knows as well. >> given the situation now, the elections that are going on, what can judges and courts to do to combat or overcome the perception that money buys the decisions? >> is is a good question.
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if i had the answer, i might still be a judge. it is a tremendous problem that we have to do something with. can judges self police the police? the problem is, you've always somebody wanted to be a judge. we have greater control by bar associations in judicial elections. then you get back into free- speech issues of independent campaigns. >> a thing sometimes it is easier to get people excited about a decision that is bigger than smaller. in certain areas we need to get
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agreement on marginal change. this is true in the political side. if you look at the poll on citizens united, almost no one is agreeing with the conservative argument. 80% of people believe it is a problem of too much money. the issues did not believe will be any better. if it will always be corrupt, always be broken. in some ways we're arguing not about a conservative position, but skepticism that we can make it better. i think this is a moment where we win more people by thinking big then necessarily by small. disclosures are incredibly important. almost everyone agrees on, even
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if we can i get it to the heads of people down the street. we cannot even win what should be the easiest, everybody agrees on a position. also, sometimes i can take away from thinking more broadly about this question of how broken our politics are. i think also, since i'm in an advocacy position, to go back to the point. there is a lot of education on this. this is just people being too easy to manipulate and too much money involved, people are outraged by it. they want something better than what they are seeing. i think which you could see that are acts of personal leadership and courage. maybe they lose an election. the american community see them.
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that to have an enormous affect as well. >> it is important to note. it said that all of them are local. that is true. it is incumbent upon them in the city and judicial district. those of the people who have credibility in their own groups. those of the people who will be on the ground and know the facts in that particular jurisdiction. >> i am a native of northern virginia and a victim of the pharmaceutical companies. a 30-day sample of a bill of five killed my fiancee in 30 days. the problem that i have found is now that we have toward reform the have put a cap and the balance on your pain and suffering and you have to prove that the pharmaceutical
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companies were negligent in order to sue. you had mentioned something about following the money. i follow the money and it leads to a despicable place. if their decisions are based on money that was given to them in a contribution and it affects people whether it kills off hundreds of thousands of people are wounds or injuries, will there be any criminal time for those legislators, for those judges? if will they be disbarred? or will there be term limits set on them? will there be any repercussions for their actions? >> it is a horrible situation when people are impacted personally as you have. by this generic toward reform of label that you hear. again, i'll plug the movie hot coffee. the family was highlighted in there. there are caps in a nebraska.
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even though their son was born brain damaged as the result of a negligent delivery, he has to live his entire life on a fixed amount of money much lower than what the jury had determined was a reasonable amount. you know, we are seeing people impacted personally by these decisions. there is also a story in "hot coffee" of a guy who campaigned for tort reform. he also suffered medical negligence problems and tried to bring a suit. and someone said that, well, texas has this law now and you're not able to sue your doctor because of this. and he said, no, we were campaigning against frivolous lawsuits, not mine. frivolous lawsuit is in the eye of the beholder. that is only to people like you telling your story that others are going to realize that this
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may affect me and my family as well. your story is heartbreaking because it is a recurring thing. i think judges are hearing all over the country. again, i think it is important to get stories like yours out before the public. nobody wants to have their loved one or their child, or themselves. they want to have their day in court. they want the damages of their pain and suffering and just compensation for their injuries. they wanted those things. i think if people like you get your story out that this is what is happening because of corporate money. believe me, you never heard
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anybody whine louder than when these corporations get dumped out of court. it is the end of the world as we know it. i do not recall who did the study. i think it was some credible organization a few years ago. you talk about frivolous lawsuits. most of the frivolous lawsuits are between corporate interests. things like that >> i noticed the same people were talking about judicial activism seemed to have no problem with that. >> one of the greatest growth industries in the mississippi legal community right now is business-on-business lawsuits. did not want to give up their right to sue each other and when they want to, but there will be darned if a person can sue the corporation. >> when roy it retired -- i am roy.
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i retired. the fullness of the information about the independent spending is really striking. you all are to be commended for it. i thought the right question was asked. what is the best way to do something about this. i thought the right answer came from the justice. if there is one thing, it is disclosure. my question is this. what are you going to do about this? you refer to strong disclosure without a word of what that means. what it means, in fact, it is, maybe one or two hiding somewhere, where the disclosure of the independent spending is as effectively required. the use the magic words hurdle,
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which means you just to knock anything. kind of follow pull the center be engaging in. for us, this will be a 24/07 process as it has been. one of the unique things about this institution is we have both a think tank and an advocacy arm. we try to be at the intersection of those two things. one is to do the research when it should be easy.
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the second component is the research of connecting those donations to the impact on people's lives at the kitchen table, with to have heard about in stories today. one of the things that has shifted is what i would consider ideological living in the left. to what you might call return on investment giving. this is not just based on the case. it is based on how the case changes in our society about whether it is ok to read a $10 million check. we are looking at how these donors will see a return on investment in the first year. and based on actual policy changes. we want to make sure we do the research and not just on where the money is coming from and how much, which i think is a
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shocking to people, but what that means. we keep coming back to the appeal of "hot coffee" for a reason. they may run an ad for a marriage, but this is about overturning a case for people died and got sick because of corporate negligence. it is cheaper for them to buy a justice than to pay the liability. i think the disclosure we need to look into is not just the giving but also doing the research. it shows what this means for people in their everyday lives. that is something we will be committed to doing. i guess both these gentlemen in their own capacities will continue to fight for the system. >> i agree. i was not trying to be rude here. this was a brief that was filed in the appeal of montana.
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former retired justices of the supreme court. amy was the attorney who wrote this brief. the extreme difficulty that was a faced when people that were interested tried to follow the money. i think it was the supreme court race that was with justices who were thrown out of office. it was like looking at a cayman bank account. it was a layer upon layer upon layer of protective corporations. again, it just points out what i said. these people do not like transparency. >> it all goes back to
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disclosure and focusing on the problem. i am out there constantly speaking on these issues. i just had a tremendous reception. folks had a no idea what is happening in the judicial system. and the influence that corporations are attempting to have on the judicial system. we have to educate and disclose. as a result of what i have gone through, i was a justice on the mississippi supreme court, subject to a loss of this negative advertising. i feel compelled to speak out. the worst thing that happened to me is i'm now in private practice main lawyer money instead of judge money. it is not a bad thing. i'm one of the most well-known lawyers in the state of mississippi, which may not be a
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big thing here. my career is not diminished because of it. because i have been able to take a principled stand, and i think people have respected that. i mentioned the family who live with their medical malpractice problem that they have for the rest of their lives. also told the story of jamie lee jones who is subject to an arbitration agreement she signed with halliburton who was raped and abused and iraq when she went to work for halliburton in a iraq. but she had signed an arbitration agreement and could not sue directly. al franken took heart calls up on capitol hill and she ultimately, through his efforts and the efforts of others, was able to bring her case and ultimately get heard. but she has to live with that constantly. so, we have these problems.
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disclosure and education are solutions. we have to do that. >> we appreciate everyone coming. when you think about how deeply this is integrated into the american story from "to kill a mockingbird" to "12 angry men" to "hot coffee." we think about how much we've got to this idea of an independent judiciary. that remains a great part of the american tradition. we want to thank them deeply for their courage in their profession. [applause] >> the report we put out on the table is the short version of a much longer report with a whole bunch of analysis in different cases. thank you. [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2012]
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>> in seven days, watch coverage of the republican and democratic conventions live here on c- span, your front-row seat to the convention. next, "q&a" with walter pincus. in new hampshire town hall meeting with republican presidential candidate mitt romney and a vice presidential candidate, rep paul ryan. today, live on c-span, republican presidential
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candidate mitt romney and vice presidential candidate, paul ryan, hold a town hall meeting in new hampshire. you can watch itspan at 10:35 a.m. eastern. >> this week on "q&a", pulitzer prize-winning "the washington post" columnist walter pincus discusses his career as a reporter, along with current issues of national security. host: walter pincus you wrote on july 24, 2012, is congress a serious legislative body or not? what is your answer? guest: well, part of it is my terrible history in which i was in my 20's. i worked for senator fullbright, running an investigation. it is a totally different body,
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totally different. and it has become so polarized that it doesn't work. and something has to change. host: what did you do for senator fullbright and what committee? guest: senate foreign relations committee. i had written on a magazine article on foreign government lobbying. he called the next year and said, you pointed out weaknesses in a foreign agent registration act. do you want to change the law? and come to the committee for 18 months? and i was 28 years old and fancy free and writing for three north carolina magazines and the idea of changing the law was attempting. host: did you get it done? guest: we held two months of
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hearings, and it took another few months to change the law. the foreign agents registration act registration was probably -- still one of the best lobbying registration acts on the books. host: how does it work? guest: if you represent a foreign government entity, you have to register. and then you have to file reports every six months, how you spent your money, who got money. they've fooled with it somewhat because they were worried about government corporate entities. i think in the years after i left, i got some waiver into that. but it is still pretty good. nobody goes to look at it, but it is there to look at. a of

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